How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker 2020

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker is not something I thought I needed coaching on. I’ve been doing that for years; nonetheless, Anna Thomas has opened the cellar doors to not just the elitist holiday-makers but to us catastrophic normal folk. Cinching together real-life anecdotes, grape facts, and wanky wine nomenclature, a new realm of wine tastings have been established.

It begins with entering the Treasury 1860 Bar – a modern, gold and marbled accented room attached to the Adina Hotel. Ordering a drink [palate cleanser] followed by the wine wankers flight [participatory aspect]. I was highly unprepared for the fact I was the only one alone and it’s very well lit. There are maybe 35 other people packed into the wall-clad lounges, and I wonder: what is this show actually about?

Shortly, I am put at ease with the likes of a socks-without-shoes sporting woman whose warm smile welcomes you to her space. A space that, through sincerity and grounded humour, allows you to reflect upon your own journey. Not truly knowing how it is ‘on the nose’ or what an ‘oaky finish’ is works in my favour – her (un)pretentious descriptions transform the crushed grape into an experience. Her experiences. We are held captive by Anna’s storytelling, silent and immersed into the saga she paints before us.

“I’m the Grenache of the corporate world!” she exclaims after her analysis of the underrated wine. The wine was brilliant and is something I would never have found if not for this show.

Ana scoops up every self-proclaimed wanky monologue of spicy, nutty accents with a hint of realism. She explores the trials and tribulations of her corporate career and the ominous big questions we all swirl around the bottom of the glass – Who am I? What do I want? Part theatric monologue, part conversive narrative, Ana pinpoints the crossroads of her life and creatively pairs them with the six South Australian wines in our flight.

The show delves deeper than grape juice antics as she unravels her path through the adversity and heartache of womanhood, self-discovery, and vino consumption before you. At times, I could see the vines of the Barossa valley open up before her as she led us through her musings of Merlot and being a woman amongst the corporate top dogs.

Three whites, three reds, an hour of powerful storytelling and the unmissable opportunity to be a Wine Wanker for an evening.

4/5


Words by Taylor Veltman

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker is running a sold out season at Treasury 1860 until March 15

For more information click here and to see our 2018 interview with Anna Thomas click here

Songbirds

No doubt the Barossa is a prime spot for scenic views, fine wine and gourmet food – tourists from all over Australia and the world visit for just that reason – and us South Australians are proud of it, rightfully so. Adding the Fringe into the mix not only colours the area and makes it more vibrant for us all, but the locals come out in a display of support and it’s something city-folk need to see. The Barossa isn’t all about commerce; it doesn’t have to be so high-end. The Barossa is about community and its art, and Songbirds proved it.

Last night, in a massive shed of a primary school gymnasium in Tanunda, five singer / songwriters from the Barossa got together to celebrate the women who came before them. Promising something rustic and refined, something authentically local, the venue was decorated with flowing white curtains above a stage full of instruments (mostly acoustic guitars) and white candles enclosed in twigs and gum leaves centred on long, shared tables. There was a collective feeling in the air of laid-back class. After Sue Baker, Victoria Blechynden, Cara Boehm, Cloudy Davey, and Megan Isaacson performed their first song, which they sang as a group, the women took off their shoes and got comfortable. They joked with one another and with their audience, and then got down to story-telling.

Storytelling can take many forms, and the packed house of 250 people heard two: an introduction to what the notable singer and their songs meant to each artist, and the songs themselves. Supported by an all-male band playing guitars, double bass, drums, sax, dobro and mandolin (with the ever-versatile Jamie Blechynden playing most of them) the women covered the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Ricky Lee Jones, Eva Cassidy, Joni Mitchell and many beloved, iconic more, proving they weren’t one-trick ponies by switching and swapping instruments throughout the night. Sometimes folk, sometimes soul, sometimes political, sometimes feel-good, the women were always professional, which is a big call for a Fringe show as the concept behind the festival can mean productions might be very grass-roots with a high hit-or-miss rate. But these women are serious artists, and the audience got just what they came for (the wine, platters and desserts cost extra and were also worth the price, surprisingly modest at that). The individual personalities came out not only in how each woman communicated their passion for music, their chosen musicians and the women they shared the stage with, but also in their original songs, because what would a night of singer / songwriters be without originals? And with those originals a theme emerged within the group: finding yourself then letting yourself go.

As our emcee told us, Tanunda means ‘many water birds’ making Songbirds a perfect coming-together.

4.5/ 5 stars


Words by Heather Taylor Johnson

This was a one-off event for the Barossa Fringe but you can view it live-streamed here:  https://www.facebook.com/Songbirds2020/